E.J. Bellocq, ‘Storyville Portrait’, ca. 1912, Fraenkel Gallery

Signature: initialed & printed by Lee Friedlander

About E.J. Bellocq

Though his life and much of his work are shrouded in uncertainty, E.J. Bellocq is celebrated for what is known: a series of sensitive, sensual, and unusual photographic portraits of New Orleans prostitutes, called the “Storyville Portraits” (c. 1912). Captured with dignity and intimacy, the women of the brothels are shown both nude and dressed, in poses simultaneously casual and classical. Named after the legal red light district in New Orleans (active 1898-1917), the portraits were made using glass negatives, which were heavily damaged when Lee Friedlander acquired them in 1966 and began producing prints from them, bringing Bellocq’s work to light. In 1970, the prints were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, drawing crowds fascinated by their subjects, the compelling marks of wear on the negatives, and the inexplicably scratched-out faces of many of the women.

American, 1873-1949, New Orleans, Louisiana, based in New Orleans, Louisiana